Sanders maintains Top 10 in Dakar debut

Picture: RALLYZONE

Upper Yarra motorcross champion Daniel Sanders has maintained his Top 10 position after completing Stage Nine of the Dakar Rally.

Sanders is currently racing across Saudi Arabian sand dunes for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team at Dakar 2021, known as the “world’s toughest and biggest race”.

Sander’s team mate and world champion Toby Price’s Dakar dreams were unfortunately cut short after an accident in Stage Nine rendered him out of the race and in hospital with a broken collarbone.

In an Instagram post, Sanders said he came across the injured Price 150km into the race.

“As I stopped the chopper was just landing, I quickly checked on him then tried to charge on. It was hard to get back into the groove after seeing the big guy down injured and also for me after just having a crash that could have finished my race earlier,” he said.

According to Sanders, he was also in a “decent crash” in Stage Nine after losing traction in the rocks.

“I lost all my water in my hydration and broke the tip of the gear lever,” the post read.

He reported his first small crash on Stage Seven after 400km’s of racing, requiring a few stiches and copping a cut to the mouth.

The crash in Stage Seven meant Sanders went into Stage Eight with a damaged front wheel. Given that Stages Seven and Eight were marathon stages, mechanics were not available, with Sanders facing the challenge of keeping up his Top 10 position while nursing the bike in order to bring it home safely to the mechanics ahead of Stage Nine.

The Star Mail spoke with Sander’s mum, Pauline, on Monday.

“It looks like he’s been in a fight with Mike Tyson, he’s got a black eye and a swollen lip but looks a bit better after a few stitches.

“It’s just a cut lip and a couple stitches, you can get that in football. He’s been very lucky compared to some of the other riders,” Mrs Sanders said.

Mrs Sanders said her son’s aim was to win number one Rookie and place in the Top 10.

“He sounds so refreshed. He says it is his favourite race he has ever done and he has raced in Europe, America and home in Australia. He says he is getting more comfortable and faster and navigating is easier every day,” she said.